Books

"Breakout," the new novel by author Kate Messner, captures a community's response - and questions - following the escape of two inmates from a nearby maximum security prison.
From left: Bloomsbury Publishing, Kate Messner / Courtesy

Two men escaped from a maximum security prison in Dannemora, New York, three years ago. The Adirondack community was wracked by fear and uncertainy as the manhunt to find the two convicted murders lasted nearly a month.

But the incident also inspired author Kate Messner to write a young adult novel based on the frightening real-life event.

Author Loung Ung, right, talks with "Vermont Edition" host Jane Lindholm before the students in Essex High School's Global Leadership Program.
Anna Ste. Marie / VPR

Author Loung Ung was just five years old when communist revolutionaries known as the Khmer Rouge took control of her home country of Cambodia. Nearly a quarter of the population died in the ensuing genocide. But she survived, eventually making her way to Vermont. She recently returned to her alma mater to speak with students as part of Essex High School's Global Leadership Program. 

Reeve Lindbergh's new book "Two Lives" explores her own experiences against the background of growing up with some of the most famous parents in the country.
courtesy of Reeve Lindbergh

Reeve Lindbergh grew up in the long shadow cast by her parents, Anne and Charles Lindbergh.

Her father’s feats as an aviator made him one of the best-known people of his time, and the kidnapping and death of the Lindbergh’s infant son in 1932 only increased the family’s notoriety. Later, Charles became a leader in the non-interventionist movement before World War II, the original America First Committee.

Newly exiled Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn in Kazakhstan in 1953 (left); Solzhenitsyn  with his sons in Cavendish in August 1976; Solzhenitsyn at his self-made writing table in Cavendish during the 1980s.
Cavendish Historical Society, courtesy

His novels earned him the 1970 Nobel Prize in literature and exile from the Soviet Union, but in Vermont Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn is also know for the nearly 20 years he lived and worked in the town of Cavendish. We're looking at the Russian writer's works, his time in the state and what his novels say to readers in 2018.

"The Long Shadow" by Beth Kanell is set in the Northeast Kingdom in the run-up to the Civil War.
images courtesy of Beth Kanell

A new historical novel geared to a teenage audience tells the story of a young woman in the Northeast Kingdom in the run-up to the Civil War. Author Beth Kanell says she wrote the novel in part to challenge Vermonters on how they think about the state's history in relation to slavery. 

Vermont author Kimberly Harrington writes about the intersection of parenthood, work and social media in her new memoir.
Isaac Wasuck

Towards the beginning of her new book of essays, Vermont author Kimberly Harrington includes a short satirical piece titled "Just What I Wanted, a Whole Twenty-Four Hours of Recognition Once a Year." It's a good read for this time of year, as we approach the beloved/dreaded holiday known as Mother's Day. (It's Sunday, May 13, in case you were wondering.)

A wall display at Northfield Elementary School featured the covers of all this year's nominees for the Dorothy Canfield Fisher Book Award.
Meg Malone / VPR

Dorothy’s List readers have cast their ballots and the results have been tallied. The winner of this year’s Dorothy Canfield Fisher Book Award is the World War II novel Projekt 1065 by Alan Gratz!

Eight students sit in a library holding up copies of Firoozeh's Dumas' novel "It Ain't So Awful, Falafel."
Meg Malone / VPR

At the Orchard Elementary School in South Burlington, students come from a variety of cultural backgrounds. In fact, about a third of the students speak a language other than English at home. 

Last fall, a group of Orchard fifth-graders gathered to discuss It Ain’t So Awful, Falafel, a novel about an Iranian-born girl living in California in the late 1970s and early 1980s – much like author Firoozeh Dumas.

Four Westford Elementary students gather around a table in the library.
Meg Malone / VPR

Westford Elementary School students have broken up into small groups, clustered around library tables — but in this case, the tables are figurative life rafts. The students are discovering a nearly-forgotten piece of history, as they dive into the nonfiction book Lost in the Pacific, 1942 by Vermont author Tod Olson.

Bill Mares stands in front of a wall with an image of the cover of the book "The Full Vermonty."
Melody Bodette / VPR

A Gallup poll following President Donald Trump's first six months in office found his lowest approval rating among all 50 states was in Vermont, at just 26 percent. It is very much within that context that author Bill Mares got together with cartoonist Jeff Danziger to produce a book of essays called The Full Vermonty: Vermont in the Age of Trump.

Author Olivia Hoblitzelle heard a phrase in her 40s that influenced the way she embraced her own aging and those around her. Now at age 80, her book collects her reflections and stories on how to age well.
Courtesy, Olivia Hoblitzelle

Olivia Hoblitzelle has spent her career as a teacher, a therapist and a writer. Her lifelong work brought together the practices of meditation, cognitive therapy and yoga into Western medicine's domain. And now Hoblitzelle's most recent book, Aging With Wisdom: Reflections, Stories & Teachings, gathers her writing into focused pieces on how to age well.

A headshot of author Chris Bohjalian and the cover of his new novel The Flight Attendant.
Victoria Blewer

The new novel The Flight Attendant is a page-turner thriller — and the 20th book by Vermont's own Chris Bohjalian.

Elizabeth Atherton and Sally O’Brien work on placing their photos, taken in front of a green screen, into pictures of places from medieval France.
Aym Kolb Noyes / VPR

Readers at the Neshobe School in Brandon are really getting into Adam Gidwitz’s book The Inquisitor’s Tale, which takes place in the Middle Ages — meaning that with the help of imagination and technology, they are literally putting themselves into the narrative.

Jane Lindholm / VPR

With the 17 people who lost their lives when a gunman opened fire at a high school in Parkland, Florida, last week are still very much on the minds of Americans a two-year-old essay by Burlington writer Kimberly Harrington has renewed resonance.

Do you have a favorite book? Maybe it’s a novel you read again and again. But has a work of fiction ever inspired your vacation plans? New Bedford is the destination for devotees of one famous literary leviathan.

An illustration of books on shelves.
iStock / marrishuanna

The Vermont Book Award is entering its fourth year and the prestigious honor for work of outstanding literary merit by Vermont authors has a new twist in 2018.

In the past, the nominations have been made by a committee of independent booksellers and publishers. But for the first time, this year's nominations can be submitted by the public.

"Heart Spring Mountain," a new novel by Vermont author Robin MacArthur.
Harper Collins Publisher, courtesy

Southern Vermont author and musician Robin MacArthur won acclaim for her first book, a collection of short stories called Half Wild. Her debut novel, Heart Spring Mountain, is also getting rave reviews. The story jumps back and forth in time to follow the lives of the women in one rural Vermont family, as they search for a family member who disappeared during Tropical Storm Irene.

Students at Dover Elementary School gathered in the library to discuss Kelly Barnhill's novel "The Girl Who Drank the Moon" and posed with the paper birds they made.
Amy Kolb Noyes / VPR

Students at Dover Elementary are trying their hands at making origami birds. Paper birds like these play an interesting role in Kelly Barnhill’s fantastical novel The Girl Who Drank the Moon. The birds in the book are magical, and they can be both helpful and vicious.

The cover of "Llama Llama and the Bully Goat," one of Vermont author Anna Dewdney's hugely popular children's books.
Courtesy / Reed Duncan

A new animated series based on the popular Llama Llama children's books series debuts Jan. 26 on Netflix. Anna Dewdney, a southern Vermont author and illustrator and the series' creator, died in 2016 at the age of 50. Her longtime partner, Reed Duncan, spoke with Vermont Edition about how her work continues to find new audiences.

These Hyde Park fifth graders took a bus ride to the Green Mountain Technology and Career Center to talk about The Littlest Bigfoot with a group of sixth graders. The sixth grade is at GMTCC while Hyde Park Elementary School is undergoing renovations.
Meg Malone / VPR

If you were listening closely a few weeks ago in northern Vermont, you may have heard what sounded like a secret colony of "Bigfoots." But no, it was just a group of Hyde Park Elementary School students acting like the characters in The Littlest Bigfoot.

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